Thursday, September 24, 2015
A while ago I came across this article: The 12 pillars of Polyamory for Everyone.
As I’m looking through the list I’m agreeing with every one of the pillars until I got to number 12 – compersion. The definition (from both the Ethical Slut and More than Two) is: A feeling of joy experienced when a partner takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship. The definition that this article gives is: the idea that you can experience joy when someone you care about is happy, even if you’re not the source of that happiness. While I do experience joy when someone I care about is happy, I would not call that compersion. I call that just being happy. The article didn’t do a good job about selling compersion in a relationship. There’s a difference about being happy for someone and compersion.
Now I understand that the word compersion was formed in the poly community along with its definition. I would guess that the word was formed to differentiate between being generally happy for someone and being happy for someone sexually. However, we mono/open people don’t always have to do the complete compersion dance every time our partners find someone; and – much to the shock of the poly community – it’s ok to do so! We can take compersion to a point.
First off, you have to have compersion to some extent or else we would not be with our poly partners. We know that this is who they are and that there will be others in our partner’s lives besides us. If you’re tolerating it thinking that they will “grow out of it” or giving your partner grief over others, then I suggest you assess your relationship to see if it’s right for you. But if you understand that this is who they are then you can do a little compersion dance when your partner finds another because – again – this is their wiring. M has been friends for many years with D. Recently they have sat down and talked about having a close friend relationship (right now no sex – their agreement). They enjoy each other’s company and are happy going out together. Our rule is that I would like to meet anyone M is interested in. She’s good people and we all get along well too. I have talked to M about this relationship and he appears to be happy about it; so if he’s happy, then I’m happy. If and when they decide to take it to the next level, will I be doing the compersion dance? The answer is: I know that M would be happy and that I know D; but my mono wiring will kick in and I will have to deal with that. Normal stuff us mono/open people go through. It’s compersion to a point.
Now you don’t have to do the compersion dance if you don’t like the person that your partner is with. That’s ok too! Just because the word compersion is out in the world doesn’t mean that we mono/open people have to embrace it fully. The poly world would like everyone to fully understand and do the complete compersion dance. I say do the compersion dance at your own pace.